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CA 371: Cahuilla Rd

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[Temecula US 395 and CA 71, 1957.] [Routes 71, 74, 740 and 79 in the Inland Empire, 1934.] CA 371 is a historical remnant of the then-much larger and mightier CA 71, at its greatest extent running from the San Jacinto mountains at Anza to Pomona and today reduced to a expressway-freeway from Corona north. In 1934, the routing CA 371 travels today didn't even exist, being built as an extension to CA 71 when CA 74 was moved north to soak up the east leg of the decommissioned CA 740 in 1938 (see Old Highway 395 Part 10) and later formalized as LRN 277.

In 1974, when CA 71 was cut down to Corona and replaced from Temecula north by what would become I-15, the section north of the CA 79 junction at Aguanga was added to CA 79 (we'll look at some of the remnants of the earlier CA 79 routing, including the only signed county route in Riverside county), and the Aguanga-Anza routing became new highway CA 371. It retains its isolated rural character, serving no major community, and furnishes a view of the Riverside county mountains usually seen only by the local traveler.

Photographs taken November 2013 and October 2015.


CA 371 starts at CA 74 east of Anza. The ascent from the western Coachella Valley over the eastern San Jacinto Mountains is a gnarly drive.

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Approaching the junction, signed to both Anza, and San Diego (via CA 79 either direction, to I-8 or to I-15).

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Separation signage and trailblazer for CA 371 from WB CA 74.

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END CA 371 at the junction.

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Distance signage at the junction. Hemet and Idyllwild are directly accessed by CA 74, but the eastern terminus at CA 111 is actually in Palm Desert; access to Indio continues along CA 111 from there.

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First shield.

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Distance signage leaving the junction.

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First postmile (PM 77.0), which is actually the terminal mileage for what CA 71 used to be. This is because CA 371 didn't exist until 1974, well after the original CA 71 postmiles were erected, and the Division of Highways for some reason did not shift down the accumulated mileage from the prior route.

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As we descend from the mountains we leave the San Bernardino National Forest, in which we were traveling from CA 74 on up to the junction.

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Entering Anza, named for Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza, iho explored much of northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States on his two trips from 1774 to 1776. His name graces many regions in California, including the Anza Valley into which we are entering, and the Anza-Borrego State Park to the south. The modern town was settled around the 1860s, though the Post Office didn't make the name official until 1926 (the Valley was named at around the same time). It has 3,014 residents [2010]. The sign gives an elevation of 3,917'.

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Entering the Anza Valley.

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An odd variant postmile crossing the local creekbed at PM 74.16. We are traveling west, so the postmiles decrease. This, too, is a holdover from CA 71, and CA 71 to this day has "backwards" postmiles because when it was longer it was also defined east-west rather than its now shortened largely north-south route (ordinarily it would increase heading north, but it decreases because it is also heading west). However, CA 371 predominantly travels east-west on its remainder routing, so this is congruent.

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Local marker for the Valley.

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Entering "town."

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Turn-off for the local library and school branches, and a historical marker for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historical Trail, covering over 1,200 miles in California and Arizona in both a historical route more closely approximating his journeys and an Auto Route traversable by passenger car. The whole of CA 371 is part of the Auto Route.

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One of the signed intersections.

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Turn-off for the Ramona Indian Reservation, a 560-acre reservation for the Ramona Band of Cahuilla Indians founded in 1893. The "Ramona" makes reference to Ramona Lubo, buried on the reservation, who may have been at least part of the inspiration for Helen Hunt Jackson's album of the same name. The term "Cahuilla" is an exonym: the native language is called Ivilyuat in its own tongue, and the exonym may come from a corruption of the word kawi'a, meaning "master," though some bands call themselves by varying names such as Cahuilla Mission and Mission Indians. Their presence in Southern California has been attested to at least the 1700s, and they were encountered during Anza's travels in the region. About 4,200 Cahuilla live in Southern California scattered between multiple federally recognized tribes, though the remaining native speakers of Ivilyuat number only around 35. The entirety of CA 371 is named Cahuilla Rd.

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WB CA 371.

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Entering the Cahuilla Indian Reservation, another of the component tribes of the Cahuilla people (formally the "Cahuilla Band of Cahuilla Indians of the Cahuilla Reservation"). Originally residents of the Coachella Valley to the east, in which Lake Cahuilla once existed in antiquity where the Salton Sea is now (see CA 195), the tribe was relocated to the reservation in 1875. Its 18,884 acres have only 154 members, who privately own most of the acreage.

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PM 65.44 and a glaring misspelling by the District 8 sign shop.

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WB CA 371 through pastoral rangeland.

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Leaving the reservation, here looking back EB as I couldn't find a corresponding sign on the other side.

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Beginning a steeper downgrade into the Aguanga Valley.

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3,000' on the descent.

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PM 61.

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Wilson Valley Rd, a locally important cutoff connecting to RivCo R3, the only remaining signed county highway in Riverside county. R3 is the remnant of the former routing of CA 79, which formerly proceeded north to Radec and Sage into Hemet, which at around the same time of CA 371's formation was moved to the current western Winchester Rd alignment via Temecula and thence to CA 74 west of Hemet instead. We'll see some of the remaining signage of R3 at the end.

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Signage at the junction.

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Curving down.

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Distance signage facing EB.

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Advance signage for the junction with current CA 79, the end of CA 371, at PM 56.75.

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Entering Aguanga, at an elevation of 1,940'. The name is Luiseño Indian and refers to the former village at the site named awáanga, the "dog place." The town lies along the historic Butterfield Overland Mail route and one of the original stations was nearby (see Old Highway 395 Part 10). Several small white settlements existed in the region during the late 1800s but the official Aguanga post office was not established until 1901. The modern town has a population of 1,128 [2010]. We won't see much of it from CA 371.

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Signage for the continuation of the Anza Trail Auto Tour Route south along CA 79 (and PM 56.50).

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No selling stuff here! We mean it!

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END CA 371 shield and distance signage at the terminus, with control cities via Interstate 15 to the west.

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CA 371 trailblazer at the junction from SB CA 79.

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SB CA 79 postmile just past the junction, with only a couple miles before the San Diego county line.

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Turning around, we see another CA 371 trailblazer and distance signage at the junction from NB CA 79. Notice that both Anza and Indio (via CA 74) are signed.

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Terminal postmile for CA 371, PM 56.38, hidden by a bush.

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NB CA 79, PM 2.5.

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From the SB side once more, here is the advance signage from SB CA 79, first for Anza ...

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... and then for Indio. We turn back around.

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On our way back to I-15, we also pass the turnoff for RivCo R3 in the small settlement of Radec. The name is simply "cedar" spelled backwards of unclear derivation, possibly for the California incense-cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) which naturally grows in the county's higher elevations. There are only two county routes in zone R of the County Sign Route program, both in Riverside county, but only R3 seems to actually have signage (R2 near CA 177 in Desert Center does not appear to be signed as such, at least as of the last time I checked around 2017); the former R1 became modern CA 243 between Banning and Idyllwild, and an extension of SDCo S16 into Riverside (Pala Rd) was apparently decommissioned when maintenance shifted to the city of Temecula.

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The terminus of R3 is at CA 74 in Hemet. This old sign sat at the corner of State and Florida, though it seems to have disappeared since this picture was taken in 2013. CA 79 then proceeded north from there along State St into Gilman Springs prior to its realignment via San Jacinto. Like CA 371, R3 too serves few population centres except for Hemet at this terminus. I'm not sure why the county has so few signed county roads, but it may have something to do with the county's "zone to itself" which makes interjurisdictional signage less necessary.

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